Friday, 1 July 2011

Distinguishing traits of the good and the wicked - Shri Ram Charitra Manas

“Yet, O storehouse of compassion, I make bold to make one submission, I being Your servant and You the delight of Your devotees. The glory of the saints, O Lord of the Raghus, has been sung in various ways by the Vedas and Puranas. You too have exalted them by Your own graceful mouth and my lord bears great affection for them. I would fain hear, my lord, their distinctive marks, O Ocean of compassion, conspicuous as You are by Your excellences and wisdom. O protector of the suppliant, tell me clearly and severally the distinguishing traits of the good and the wicked.”
“Hear, brother, the characteristics of saints, which as told in the Vedas and Puranas are innumerable. The conduct of saints and the wicked is analogous to that of sandalwood and the axe. Mark, brother : the axe cuts down a sandal-tree, while the latter in its turn perfumes the axe by imparting its virtue (fragrance) to it.”
“For this reason sandalwood (in the form of paste) finds its way to the head of gods (their images) and is loved by the world so much; while the axe has its steel edge heated in the fire and beaten with a hammer as punishment.”
“Saints as a rule have no hankering for the pleasures of sense and are the very mines of amiability and other virtues. They grieve to see others in distress and rejoice at the sight of others’ joy. They are even-minded and look upon none as their enemy. Free from vanity and passion, they are conquerers of greed, anger, joy and fear. Tender of heart and compassionate to the distressed, they cherish guileless devotion to Me in thought, word and deed; and giving honour to all, they are modest themselves. Such souls, Bharata, are dear to Me as life. Having no interested motive of their own they are devoted to My Name and are abodes of tranquillity, dispassion, humility and good humour. Again, know him for all time, dear brother, a genuine saint, whose heart is a home of all such noble qualities as placidity, guilelessness, friendliness and devotion to the feet of the Brahamanas, which is the fountain of all virtues. They never swerve from the control of their mind and senses, religious observances and correct behaviour and never utter a harsh word.”
“They who regard both obloquy and praise alike and who claim My lotus feet as their only possession—such saintly souls are dear to Me as life and are veritable abodes of noble qualities and embodiments of bliss.”
“Now hear the characteristics of the impious, association with whom should be scrupulously avoided; for their company ever brings woe, even as a wicked cow ruins by her company a cow of noble breed. The heart of the wicked suffers terrible agony; for they ever burn at the sight of others’ prosperity. Wherever they hear others reviled, they feel delighted as though they had stumbled upon a treasure lying on the road. Devoted to sensuality, anger, arrogance and greed, they are merciless, deceitful, crooked and impure. They bear enmity towards all without rhyme or reason; nay, they behave inimically even with those who are actively kind to them. They are false in their dealings (lying is their stock-in-trade); nay, falsehood is their dinner and falsehood their breakfast (whatever they eat is intended to deceive others). They speak honeyed words just like the peacock, that has a stony heart and devours the most venomous snake.”
“Malevolent by nature, they enjoy others’ wives and others’ wealth and take delight in slandering others. Such vile and sinful men are demons in human garb.”
“Greed is their covering and greed their bedding (they wallow in greed; they are ever given up to sexual enjoyment and gluttony and have no fear of punishment in the abode of Yama (the god of death). If they ever hear anyone exalted, they heave a deep sigh as though they had an attack of ague. On the other hand, when they find anyone in distress, they rejoice as though they had attained the sovereignty of the whole world. Devoted to their own selfish interests, they antagonize their kinsfolk, are given up to sensuality and greed and are most irascible. They recognize neither mother nor father nor preceptor nor the Brahamanas; utterly ruined themselves, they bring ruin upon others. Overcome by infatuation they bear malice to others and have no love for communion with saints nor for the stories relating to Shri Hari. Oceans of vice, dull-witted and lascivious, they revile the Vedas and usurp others’ wealth. Though bearing malice to all, they are enemies of the Brahamanas in particular; and full of hypocrisy and deceit at heart, they outwardly wear a saintly appearance.”
“Such vile and wicked men are absent in the Satya and Treta Yugas; a sprinkling of them will appear in Dvapara, while multitudes of them will crop forth in the Kali age.”
“Brother, there is no virtue like benevolence, and no meanness like oppressing others. I have declared to you, dear brother, the verdict of all the Vedas and Puranas; the wise also know it. They who inflict pain on others even after attaining the human body have to suffer the terrible pangs of birth and death. Dominated by infatuation and devoted to their selfish interest men commit various sins and thereby ruin their prospects in the next world. Figuring as Yama (the god of death) for their sake, brother, I dispense the fruit of their good and evil actions. Realizing this, those who are supremely clever adore Me, knowing the cycle of births and deaths as full of pain. They renounce actions which yield good or evil results and take refuge in Me, the lord of gods, men and sages. Thus I have told you the characteristics of saints and vile men. They who have fully comprehended them are no more subjected to the process of transmigration.
“Listen, dear brother: the numerous merits and demerits are all products of Maya. The greatest merit is that they should cease to exist in one’s eye; to discern them is ignorance.”

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